Finding an international HRMS system

One of the obvious (and key) benefits of an HRMS is the consistency it brings to a whole organization’s people procedures and processes. And the bigger you are, the more productive and efficient that kind consistency can be. However, in terms of finding an international HRMS, once you go global (i.e. operate and employ people in more than one country or territory) that consistency can be harder to find.

As an employer in different countries, different sections of your workforce are subject to different employment laws and regulations. This can affect anything from recruitment procedures, to contracting, to payroll and tax withholding, to retirement and pensions.

International HRMS needs – what to look for

Aside from all the usual HRMS selection requirements and best practices, you’re looking for a few extras from an international HRMS.

Consistent services

Many of the efficiencies come from your HR people working with a single, centralized employee database. That consistency of layout and easy accessibility leads to more uniform treatment of employees (and can be the foundation for uniform approaches to performance management, payroll, etc.) and when you’re running reports and analytics, all your data is in compatible shape. What’s more, the system can also help you navigate the inconsistencies, the differences in tax deductions, or sick leave allowances, and so on.

A global image

Branding is important and used internally, gives a workforce a sense of identity and unity. Part of that branding unity can come from the appearance and functionality of your HRMS. When employees all over the world are seeing the same screens, accessing the same information, employee engagement and the potential for cross-border working improve.

Fewer suppliers to manage

One HRMS means one HRMS vendor. Upgrades, service level agreements, contract negotiations, etc. are all simplified by dealing with a single supplier.

Reduced cost

A final obvious (but persuasive) point is that a single HRMS, no matter how large, will be cheaper than a number of country-specific systems which may often conflict.

Choosing an international HRMS

The big issues to dig into when comparing the performance of different systems? These are the top three:

Language and culture

It’s not just the local laws your HRMS needs to handle, it’s local language, time zones, and currencies too. Despite continuing globalization, different cultures have different expectations in terms of the world of work – maybe it’s customary breaks, or communication preferences, or differences in dialect, but how an employer relates to the workforce is often regionally determined. And once you have a system that can deal with all that, ask how will the HRMS and the HRMS vendor support a smooth implementation process?


Staying inside changing labor laws can be a challenge when you only have a single legislature to worry about. An international HRMS should be offering you the same support in terms of updates, procedural compliance, and notifications for compliance actions as any other HRMS – but on a grander scale.


A primary function of your HRMS is to store personal data. However, different countries and territories have different laws relating to data security and privacy and these can also impact on the system design and implementation.

Unsurprisingly, many global organizations looking for an international approach to HR will look to access the necessary expertise via outsourcing, seeking out a supplier with expertise in the relevant countries. They may be hiring a service rather than buying a piece of software, but the above pointers apply just the same.

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Dave Foxall

About the author…

Dave has worked as HR Manager for the Ministry of Justice for a number of years, he now writes on a broad range of topics including jazz music, and, of course, the HRMS software market.

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Dave Foxall

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